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I hate going to the hairdressers. Like, I really hate it.
The entire experience brings out the worst of my social anxiety. I find myself dressing up and putting on way more makeup to my hairdresser appointments than anywhere else because I want the person who’s cutting my hair to think I’m a cool person who needs a ‘cool’ haircut – although, in fairness, anything is an improvement on the standard trackies, hoodies, and messy bun uniform for freelancers!!
The smallest things fill me with this irrational doubt: should I close my eyes when she’s washing my hair, or keep them open? Looking at myself in the mirror feels weird – but where else do I look? Does my relaxed face make me look like I hate what she’s doing – should I try to smile? The hairdressers around me look like they’re having a much better time than mine is.
And no matter how good I’m feeling in the morning, having to sit in front of a mirror with bad lighting and a drab gown draped around my neck for an hour is a sure-fire way to leave me wallowing in a pit of self-loathing for the rest of the day.
Being forced to make prolonged small talk with a stranger is only slightly better than being forced to sit in silence in close proximity with a stranger while worrying the lack of conversation is because they think I’m strange, or awkward, or weird. Which, guess what, I am.
(If you’re reading this and can’t relate – I envy you).
As an added insult, I’m expected to endure all of that and then pay £50 for the pleasure.
So, I’ve avoided getting haircuts for as long as I can remember.
Before last week, I hadn’t had my hair cut in about 18 months. Before that? We’d probably have to go back another year, at least.
Lessons From My Annual Haircut
So as you can probably tell, booking myself in for an appointment last week was kind of a big deal for me.
And I’m not going to lie – the experience sucked. As usual, I endured an hour of awkward small talk and staring at my own face for far longer than I’d like.
What inspired this blog post though, is what happened after.
I got compliments – multiple compliments – on my hair that same evening. And I never get compliments about my hair. It’s always just…there. Average.
What really hit me though, was that every time I looked in the mirror, I fell in love with my haircut.
I felt great.
I was glad I’d spent that money because I felt a million times more confident.
I’d forgotten how something so simple as a haircut can skyrocket your self-esteem.
In the pursuit of frugality, I’d forgotten about myself. I’d forgotten to make myself happy.
And you know what else?
I always told myself I went so long between hair cuts because of my frugal habits. That I was saving money and getting out of ‘consumer culture’ by letting my hair grow wild and unchecked.
I wasn’t avoiding hair cuts because of frugality. I avoided them because they made me miserable.
Frugal living became something I let myself hide behind.
It made me think – when does frugal living tip the scale into extremeness? When does a frugal attitude become damaging to the rest of your personality?
The Cost Of Frugality? How To Know If Frugality Has Gone Too Far:
1. You’re Using It As An Excuse To Avoid Something
Do you skip social events with the excuse that you need to save money, when in fact it’s because you’re a total introvert? Do you eat the same meal, over and over again, because it’s cheap – but also because you don’t want to try eating new foods?
Bring some awareness into your money-saving habits and look beyond just the money. If you’re using those habits to mask something you’d be better off facing head-on, recognising that fact is the first step.
2. Your Lifestyle Is Worse Off
Now, let’s be real: my lifestyle wasn’t really worse off for having an average hairdo. But I’d never really made the connection with the confidence boost a hair cut can give you – and that going to the hairdressers could be almost enjoyable with that outcome.
For other people, extreme frugality may be making your lifestyle far worse. It’s when you’re miserable because of frugality that you need to question what’s really more important: a few pennies, or your happiness?
3. You Feel Isolated
Does your extreme approach to frugality leave you isolated from other people? If your social life is suffering as a result of a quest to save money, this could be a sign that you need to re-evaluate things.
4. You Never Treat Yourself
One of the best things I learned from Parks and Recreation (and believe me, there’s a lot of lessons in that show) is that sometimes, you’ve got to treat yo self.
If extreme frugality means you never use your money for your own happiness, that’s a sign things have gotten too far.
5. You Don’t Actually Enjoy Being Frugal
There’s a real difference between missing out and FOMO. It only takes a shift in perspective to realise that all those holidays, expensive belongings, and extravagant purchases the people all around you are making go hand in hand with a heap of debt that being frugal allows you to avoid. That’s frugal living done right.
However, frugality may have gone too far if you don’t even enjoy being frugal anymore. When the joy of your lifestyle choices has disappeared, maybe things have shifted too far away from a healthy balance.
This post was inspired by a hair cut and that may seem like kind of a dumb thing for a lot of people. That’s not the real point, though. The point is that sometimes, your own happiness – be it short-term or long-term – is more important than the lifestyle you’re trying to adhere to, or the fastest route to financial freedom.
As for me, I’ve already accepted the fact that I’ll be paying for my £50 haircut every 3 months, and that if I ever want my social anxiety to improve I need to face the situations that escalate it, not run from them – and honestly? The cost of creating that happier life for myself is priceless.